Today, exactly 49 years ago, Indonesian President Sukarno reluctantly signed a decree that gave full authority to army commander General Suharto to restore order, protect Sukarno and safeguard the Indonesian revolution. This decree, which would become the start of a brand new chapter in Indonesian history (the New Order) as it marked the transfer of executive power from Sukarno to Suharto, became known as Supersemar (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret, or, the Decree of 11 March).
Due to its sheer vastness Indonesia contains a rich variety of cultures. Jakarta, Indonesia's capital city and the center of national politics and economics, is the melting pot of many such cultures. Starting from the colonial era - when the city was known as Batavia - people came from all corners of the archipelago to this developing megacity in search of a livelihood. As a consequence Jakarta currently has a population of almost ten million people (official figure). The distance from the area of cultural origin, however, has resulted in a fading of some cultural features (especially for those families that have been living in Jakarta for multiple generations), but it has been 'enriched' by a distinct urban culture.
By the mid-1960s, politics and the economy of Indonesia had turned into disaster. After Independence in 1945 (and the cessation of hostilities with the Dutch in 1949), the young nation was plagued by hostile internal politics in which several political forces - consisting of the army, nationalists, Muslims, and communists - opposed each other. For over a decade, Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, had reasonable success in keeping these forces in check by the force of his own personality. However, by the mid-1960s his failure became evident.
Since the Second Indonesian Youth Congress (held on 28 October 1928), the song “Indonesia Raya” (Great Indonesia) has been the most important song for the Indonesian people. The song, written by Wage Rudolph Supratman, was born at a time when Indonesia’s nationalist movement reached its peak. After a gradual 3-century long process of political and economic expansion, the Dutch colonizers had created a king-sized colony (containing roughly 17,000 islands) by 1928 that had taken the territorial boundaries of present-day Indonesia.